ACT Greens: Advancing reconciliation through our national institutions

Caroline Le Couteur, MLA

Shane Rattenbury, MLA

With Canberra-based national arts and cultural institutions struggling after repeated Budget cuts, the Commonwealth must act to ensure these institutions can realise their mandates, the ACT Greens said today.

In a submission to the Federal Inquiry into Canberra’s National Institutions, the ACT Greens called on the Federal Government to adequately fund more than twenty national institutions, and to establish a top-level National Institutions Council to support culture, heritage and the arts in the nation’s capital.

“Our national institutions should be protected and celebrated – they tell our national story and speak to our national values, sharing this story with our community and the world,” Greens spokesperson for Arts and Heritage Caroline Le Couteur.

“After decades of pressure to realise arbitrary ‘efficiency dividends’, many of these institutions are now being rewarded with further Budget cuts by a Federal Coalition that is clearly uninterested in protecting our arts, culture and heritage.”

On Monday, the outgoing boss of the National Gallery of Australia warned its mission is being undermined by Turnbull government funding cuts.

“When our national institutions are questioning whether it is still possible to deliver on their mandate with limited resources at their disposal, we’ve reached a crisis point,” Ms Le Couteur added.

 Advancing reconciliation through our national institutions

 In their submission, the ACT Greens also called on the Commonwealth Government to investigate ways to use national institutions to progress reconciliation – including establishing a monument to the Frontier Wars and fallen Aboriginal warriors near the Australian War Memorial.

“Countless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities resisted colonisation, resulting in thousands of deaths over many decades, in what remains a brutal and violent period of our history,” Greens spokesperson for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Shane Rattenbury said.

“Reconciliation can only be achieve if we accept the true facts of our history – that we live and work on land never ceded. The impacts of this violence and dispossession are still experienced today,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“To our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, we owe a debt of truth: a Frontier Wars monument would go some way to realising this reality as part of our national story.”

The Greens also believe that it would be appropriate for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy to be given standing as an interim national institution.

“The National Capital Authority should formally offer its support to the Embassy, providing access to basic facilities – such as water, bathroom facilities, and waste collection. The Lobby Restaurant next door might be ideal for this purpose,” Mr Rattenbury added.

National institutions

The ACT Greens consider ‘national institutions’ to extent to all public institutions in Canberra that receive a substantial portion of their Budget from the Commonwealth Government, and have an active role in educating the public. These include, but are not limited to: 

Cultural

National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, National Film and Sound Archive

Historical

National Museum, Australian War Memorial, National Archives, National Library of Australia

Political

Parliament House, Museum of Australian Democracy (including the National Electoral Education Centre), Aboriginal Tent Embassy

Legal

High Court of Australia

Scientific

Questacon, CSIRO (Black Mountain Complex), National Botanic Gardens, Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla, Geosciences Australia)

Educational

Australian National University, Australian Defence Force Academy, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AITSIS), CSIRO Discovery Centre

Sporting

Australian Institute of Sport

Financial

Royal Australian Mint